An Ian Kinsler breakthrough?
As little confidence as I had in Ian Kinsler all night, I promise
you: I thought to myself as he stepped in against R.A. Dickey in the 12th, this
could work out very well.
As a prospect Kinsler exploded through the Rangers system on
the strength of a solid all-around game, with one freakish tool: maybe the
fastest hands of any hitter developed by this organization in two decades.
With Dickey summoned to face Kinsler, I didn’t expect a home
run. But I envisioned a single down the
left field line that would end the game, bringing Jarrod Saltalamacchia in from
second and an entire team out of the dugout.
Kinsler hasn’t been seeing the ball well, and hasn’t been in a mechanical
rhythm at all for a long time now. But with
a knuckleballer on the hill, he’d have no choice but to adjust his approach, to
read the ball, to drill it down to basics.
To trust his hands.
I thought we were going to get a rope to left, the kind that
he collected about two or three times a night in his storybook 2004 with Clinton
and Frisco. And I thought it would be
the kind of hit, the kind of moment, that might unlock something in Kinsler
We got more than that.
And hopefully we’re going to start getting a lot more of it.
Watch the replay. Watch
how quiet the swing mechanics are on the game-winner. He let those plus plus hands do the work.
Awesome work by the bullpen
tonight (eight shutout innings, two hits, two walks, nine strikeouts),
highlighted by C.J. Wilson bringing closer stuff to the mound, Doug Mathis
looking very sharp in bridging things from Derek Holland to the back third of
the game, and Dustin Nippert digging deep.
For what it’s worth, neither Willie
Eyre nor Warner Madrigal nor Neftali Feliz pitched for Oklahoma
City tonight, and it’s conceivable that Mathis goes out for one of
them to give the bullpen a fresh arm for the Boston opener Monday night. If it’s Feliz, it will require not only that
Mathis (in all likelihood) be optioned, but also that a spot on the 40-man
roster be cleared. Shouldn’t be a huge
problem – the club certainly has an idea of how that spot will be cleared for
Feliz eventually. But don’t be surprised
if it’s Eyre or Madrigal who gets the call for now.
And don’t be surprised, if my
non-sabermetric hunch has any legs, if Kinsler starts to look like Ian Kinsler again.